Coin Collection 〉 Early Modern Times 〉 Central and Western Europe 〉 Germany 〉 Holy Roman Empire, Free City of Hamburg in the Name of Leopold I (1658-1705), 2 Mark 1694
Holy Roman Empire, Free City of Hamburg in the Name of Leopold I (1658-1705), 2 Mark 1694
|Mint Authority:||City of Hamburg|
|Year of Issue:||1694 A.D.|
The free Hanseatic city of Hamburg, situated where the lower Elbe flows into the North Sea and the rivers Alster and Bille flow into the Elbe, developed soon after its foundation by Charlemagne into an important centre of trade and industry thanks to its excellent communications. That is still true today.
From 1356, together with Lübeck and Cologne, Hamburg had been one of the leading cities in the "Hanse," a loose association of many North German cities, whose purpose was to facilitate trade between Russia and Poland on the one hand and North Germany, Scandinavia, Flanders and England on the other. And Hamburg also belonged to the Wendish coinage union, whose members issued their currencies jointly, including the mark.
As can be seen on this coin, Hamburg was a "free imperial city," which meant that it was subject only to the direct authority of the German emperor, in this case Leopold I of Hapsburg, king of Hungary and Bohemia and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (i.e. medieval Germany). Free imperial cities had legal privileges such as their own courts – they were thus free. That is made clear by the coat of arms of the city on the obverse of the coin and the double-headed eagle of the emperor on the reverse.
Thanks to the immigration of Dutch Protestants and English merchants, Hamburg inherited (together with Amsterdam) the mantle of Antwerp, the great medieval trading city where the river Scheldt flows into the North Sea, which had been reconquered by Spain in 1585.
The foundation of the Hamburg Opera in 1678, and the active theatrical and literary scene, enriched by the German playwright Gotthold Lessing and the writer and critic Friedrich Klopstock, gave Hamburg a leading position in the intellectual life of Germany in the 17th and 18th centuries.